He that tilleth his land shall be satisfied with bread: but he that followeth vain persons is void of understanding.
– Proverbs 12:11
The first phrase commends honest, hard work and recognizes it will be rewarded. This is one who avoids the ridiculous excuses of the sluggard (Proverbs 22:13; 26:13) and empty talk (Proverbs 14:23). He works and enjoys the fruits (Ecclesiastes 2:24). The contrast in this proverb is different than the usual contrast of diligence and laziness. The contrast is of one who follows after vanity. The word for vain persons here is literally empty. It can refer to worthlessness, whether of people or general pursuits. The picture then is not of a sluggard hinged to his bed who is too lazy to raise a hand to his mouth (Proverbs 26:14-15). The picture rather is of one who puts time and energy running after worthless schemes or pleasures. He invests himself in unprofitable pursuits. This would include get rich quick schemes, excessive pleasure seeking, or generally being one who works harder at getting out of work than what the work would be if done directly. Such a one is void of understanding, or lacks wisdom.